Our Favourite Cool Season Annuals

Our Favourite Cool Season Annuals

Cool Season AnnualsWhen we are ready to get growing in the early spring, there is no plant that is more loved or promoted as the spring annual to plant. Generations of gardeners have planted pansies for their full, colourful faces, happy flowers, and spring (and fall) hardiness. Violas have been jumping up in our gardens for years and the colours that are available in the garden industry keep us coming back for more!

Viola vs. Pansy

So, what’s the difference between a Viola and a Pansy as cool season annuals? Did you know that violas are pansies predecessors? A Viola tricolor species was used in the 1800’s to develop the big, bold, and showy blooms of today’s pansy hybrids (Viola x wittrockiana). This explains why violas may appear in the spot you planted pansies the previous year if they were allowed to go to seed.

Most hybrid pansies have an upright mounding habit and large (2-3 inch) blooms. Flowers are composed of 5 overlapping petals, in a rainbow of colours – some clear colours, blotched faces, bicoloured, ruffled and more. They prefer a rich, organic well-drained soil in full spring sun to part shade. Heavy wet weather may flatten blooms and they may require deadheading to continue to push blooms through the season. In the heat of the summer, pansy containers should be moved to the shade or relocated once they’ve provided you with your early spring colour. We suggest keeping the soil evenly moist, as they dislike drying out and fertilize at least once a month. Use in containers, mixed containers or in the landscape.

Violas are our cheery little mini pansies that can pop up and self-seed themselves throughout the garden. These happy naturalizers make themselves right at home almost anywhere in the garden. The smaller, florific blooms (about the size of a nickel) of these sweet little heralds of spring provide many opportunities. They are perfect in mixed containers, as a stand alone, as edging or in the landscape. Consider mulching in the landscape to allow them to thrive wherever they may land.

A Cool New Pansy

A new Pansy hybrid to the scene in the last several years is the Cool Wave Pansy. In May and June we have several varieties available, along with a huge selection of pansies and violas. Branded with the Wave label that we are used to in the petunia world, cool wave pansies are fast growing and early blooming. These pansy hybrids are great for extending the spring and fall seasons. They can spread 24 to 30 inches (about 6-8” tall). They are an excellent choice for early season and late season lush hanging baskets and colourful spring borders.  Plant them as a stand alone in a container, in mixed combinations or in the landscape. Fewer plants are required as they can be spaced 12 inches apart.

Other annuals that will tolerate cool season temps are snapdragons, alyssum, calendula, ornamental cabbage/kale, salvia, stock, dusty miller and dianthus.